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Associated Press

Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:03 AM


Cardinals need 1 more big start from Wacha

ST. LOUIS (AP) — For four straight starts, Michael Wacha has been all but untouchable and appeared totally oblivious to the stakes.

The St. Louis Cardinals need one more just like that from the pressure-proof rookie to get to the World Series for the second time in three years.

Wacha outpitched NL Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 and the Cardinals won 1-0 on an unearned run. They're matched again in Game 6 Friday night, the precocious right-hander and the lefty who'd be at the top of anyone's list to work a must-win.

The Dodgers brought the series back to St. Louis by muscling up on offense. Adrian Gonzalez hit two of their four homers in a 6-4 Game 5 victory Wednesday.

Runs should be a lot harder to come by in Game 6.


Blues edge Blackhawks 3-2 in shootout

CHICAGO (AP) — T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal in the shootout, Jaroslav Halak stopped all three Chicago shooters in the extra session and the St. Louis Blues defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night.

David Backes scored a power-play goal for St. Louis, while Alexander Steen was credited with an even-strength score in regulation in the Blues' first road game.

Chicago's Marian Hossa scored on a breakaway and set up Brandon Pirri's first NHL goal in regulation. All but one of the Blackhawks' first seven games have been decided by one goal.

The Blues started the season with five straight home games, and won the first four before losing 6-2 to San Jose on Tuesday.

Chicago's Corey Crawford made 26 saves and Halak had 27.


Chiefs' Smith eschews gaudy stats for simple wins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Every time Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is flushed from the pocket, it seems that one of two things happens. Either he uses his fleet feet to scramble for yards, or he throws it away.

Neither of which is a bad thing.

The Chiefs have never had a quarterback who can make things happen on the ground with the same nimbleness as Smith. Nor have they had one in recent years who is smart enough to throw the ball into the third row of seats rather than take a sack or force a pass into coverage.

It's an example of how selfless Smith has played this season. He has thrown just three interceptions during their 6-0 start.

The Chiefs play Houston on Sunday.


Panthers LB Davis thriving after 3 torn ACLs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says tearing the ACL in his right knee three times in three seasons hasn't slowed him down.

And the numbers back him up.

Davis was named the NFC's defensive player of the week after his nine-tackle, two-sack performance in Carolina's 35-10 win over Minnesota last Sunday.

Davis says it was some consolation for not winning the 2012 AP Comeback Player of the Year award.

The 30-year-old Davis says "just knowing the work that I had to put in to get back to this point, when a lot of people thought it was over for me, when a lot of people told me I should retire. ... To have a day like Sunday meant a lot to me."

The Panthers host St. Louis on Sunday.


No. 22 Florida down, but not out in SEC East race

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 22 Florida has lost two games and four starters this season.

The Gators haven't lost hope of winning the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division.

Despite so much having gone wrong this season — season-ending injuries to quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones and defensive tackle Dominique Easley were significant setbacks — the Gators still have their primary goal in sight.

If Florida wins its remaining Southeastern Conference games, it would play for the league title for the first time since 2009.

The road to Atlanta begins Saturday at No. 14 Missouri.

Linebacker Michael Taylor sums it up best: "When you can control your own destiny, you don't have to hope and pray for somebody else to lose."


Warlick, Lady Vols find comfort zone in Year 2

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Holly Warlick and the Tennessee Lady Vols are more in their comfort zone going into the season.

Warlick is no longer adjusting to the role as Pat Summitt's successor and rookie head coach, and the Lady Vols are once again Southeastern Conference favorites.

After a summer when every player remained on campus, Warlick is optimistic about her team's chemistry, work ethic and of course talent level.

She said Thursday at SEC media days that last season "was different for our players, it was different for me."

Warlick has five of her top six scorers returning, led by Meighan Simmons. She also welcomes prized recruit Mercedes Russell.

The Lady Vols still have to contend with Kentucky, which returns four starters from a team that went 30-6 and was the SEC runner-up.